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Messi faces two-month injury layoff, Madrid held by Malaga

Barca’s troubles were eased, though, as Real Madrid remain a point behind the Catalans after being held 0-0 at home by 10-man Malaga on Saturday.

Villarreal now <g data-gr-id="44">lead</g> La Liga as Leo Baptistao scored the only goal of the game against his parent club Atletico Madrid.

Luis Suarez struck twice to ensure no more damage was done to Barca’s title chances, but the hosts were left hanging on after Jonathan Viera’s deflected effort three minutes from time halved the deficit.

“Firstly, it is always sad when a player gets injured. It is without <g data-gr-id="45">doubt</g> the worst thing in football for the players,” said Barca boss Luis Enrique.

“Obviously, when it is Leo Messi even more so for the weight he carries amongst our group.

“It is logical in football that players will get injured and we have to know how to overcome it. I am sure we will perform at a good level.”

Barca had been humiliated 4-1 at Celta Vigo in midweek and hopes of a trouble-free afternoon were ended after just 10 minutes when Messi injured his left knee in a clash with Pedro Bigas.

Messi, 28, was injured as he tried to turn the ball home after taking a wonderful first touch inside the area. The four-time World Player of the Year briefly returned to the field after receiving <g data-gr-id="51">treatment,</g> but was clearly unable to run freely before he was replaced by Munir El Haddadi.

Suarez opened the scoring on 25 minutes as he rose to head home Sergi Roberto’s inch-perfect cross from the right to settle Barca’s nerves.

Barca made sure of a return to winning ways thanks to a wonderful team move seven minutes after the break as Neymar picked out Munir and his cross <g data-gr-id="55">was</g> left by Sergio Busquets for Suarez to fire into the top corner. Suarez was involved once more as his trickery forced former Everton defender Antolin Alcaraz into handling inside the area.

The Uruguayan unselfishly gave up the chance of netting a hat-trick to allow Neymar to take responsibility from the spot, but he blasted over.

Barca <g data-gr-id="54">were</g> then forced to see out a nervous last few minutes as Las Palmas took advantage of an error from Javier Mascherano to pull a goal back as Viera’s shot deflected in off Gerard Pique.  At the Bernabeu, Madrid failed to move back to the top of the table as they were denied by an inspired display from Malaga goalkeeper Carlos Kameni.

“Football has these type of things. You dominate a large part of the game, create loads of chances, but if you aren’t clinical you end up drawing 0-0,” said Madrid boss Rafael Benitez.

“I think we created enough chances to score and take the three points.” Cristiano Ronaldo had an early goal ruled out for offside before Kameni got down well to twice turn efforts from Jese Rodriguez behind.
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